Crowns and bridges are used to restore and enhance teeth that are damaged, or to take the place of missing teeth. A crown (also referred to as a “cap”) is used to entirely cover a damaged tooth. A crown not only strengthens a tooth, but it can dramatically improve a tooth’s appearance, shape, and alignment.
Crowns may be used to:
- Replace a large filling when there is little tooth structure remaining
- Protect a weak tooth from fracturing
- Restore a fractured tooth
- Attach a bridge
- Cover a dental implant
- Cover a discolored or poorly shaped tooth
- Cover a tooth that has had root canal treatment
A bridge is a method to fill the space created by missing teeth. A bridge consists of one or more artificial teeth cemented into place using the teeth on either side for support. Bridge work is as much an art as it is an exact science, since it replaces a missing tooth both functionally and cosmetically. The materials used may be gold alloys, porcelain bonded to metal alloy, or all-ceramic material made to match your natural tooth color. The choice of material depends on requirements for strength, wear, and aesthetics. It is important that a missing tooth be replaced as soon as possible. If not treated, the teeth surrounding the gap begin to shift inward. Since teeth use their neighbors for support, if one is missing they begin to “fall” and shift into the open spaces. This may worsen the bite because of the changes in pressure, and can eventually result in problems with the jaw, such as TMJ disorder.
Bridges and crowns are made by first taking an impression of your mouth. The impression is sent to a dental lab where your crown or bridge will be custom made to fit your mouth and match your natural tooth color. A temporary crown or bridge will be placed into your mouth until your permanent crown or bridge is ready and cemented into place.
Bridges and crowns are very durable and can last a lifetime with extra care and good oral hygiene.